Restaurants / Bars / Openings

The Wolf of Midtown

New Three-Story Bar Brings Swing Set Shots, Mini Golf and a Controversial Past

BY // 12.11.17

The New Year is bringing new blood to Houston nightlife. Oakmont, a brand new, multi-level bar at 1916 Baldwin Street on the edge of downtown, will make its grand opening splash on New Year’s Eve with a masquerade inspired by the Tom Cruise movie Eyes Wide Shut. Live bands and magicians will spread out through the 40,000 square-foot, three-story space and sprawling patio.

Father and son Ayman and Yazan Jarrah want Oakmont to stand out from the typical Houston night scene. “Houston’s a sleeping giant,” Yazan Jarrah tells PaperCity. He’s looking to wake it up.

For now, Houston nightlife revolves around crowded bars — the kind of places “you have to be drunk to enjoy,” in Yazan Jarrah’s estimation.

With Oakmont, he aims for a blend of upscale elegance and casual fun. It’s a broad mission, one dependent on a variety of elements.  On the one hand, there’s a floor that specializes in quiet afternoons with champagne. On the other, there’s a circular swing set with a full bar and 25 specialty shots.

The Jarrahs staked out the real estate back in 2015. They were struck by the stately white house surrounded by hundreds-of-years-old live oaks during a drive around town. It took no time to make a name for their establishment — literally. The day they closed on the property, the former owner passed them a bag of keys.

“What are you calling the place?” the old owner asked. The atmosphere called for an elegant name. “Oak” was a given, but it needed something more.

“We were thinking of the full name. Oak-what? And then it came to me. Mont. Oakmont,” Yazan Jarrah says. At first, he couldn’t figure out where the name came from. He knew he’d heard it before. He searched the name online and quickly turned up a country club in Pittsburgh — no dice. A few more searches, and it hit him. Stratton Oakmont, the inspiration behind The Wolf of Wall Street.

It clicked. They were so fortunate to find the space, to purchase it, to build on it, he says.

“That’s what we are — The Wolf of Midtown,” Yazan Jarrah says.

Some might read double meaning into that moniker. Ayman Jarrah owned Midtown bar Gaslamp (since rebranded as Midtown 360) when it was sued by the United States Department of Justice for alleged racial discrimination centered around its door polices.

The New Wolf

Jarrah’s new bar isn’t stepping onto the scene — it’s stalking onto it. The wolf’s proudly wearing its own clothing.

The first floor’s all about craft beer and updated American fare. It’s a communal-style setup with open seating and picnic tables. People 23 and up are welcome, and can enjoy the top 35 national craft beers and food from chef Vahid Navissi of Café Benedicte.

Navissi was with Benedicte for 20 years. Hurricane Harvey wreaked havoc on the popular restaurant, filling it with three feet of floodwater. The chef reached out to the owners of Oakmont in the days after. They’re partnered up and developed a classic but contemporary menu.  There’s an emphasis on shareable starters, fitting with the community setting. Seasonal vegetable and sausage flatbreads will show off the German influence in the beer garden.

The second floor is for cocktails, centering  on partner Belvedere Vodka’s portfolio. It is reserved for those aged 25 and up. The age requirement goes for the uppermost floor as well.

The venue features several pieces of Mr. Moneybag artwork, tying in The Wolf of Wall Street theme.

The third floor’s dedicated to bubbly as well as the heartier stuff. Patrons can sip champagne during the daytime, or look out at the Houston skyline by night.

One bar on the third floor will be stocked with top-shelf scotch and bourbon. Yazan Jarrah hopes to open the floor up for happy hour in the coming months.

Each floor has its own decorative feel, with some uniting elements. The upper floors share a Monopoly motif, with art pieces centering on Mr. Moneybags. It’s a subtle nod to The Wolf of Wall Street.

The patio can seat up to 100. The open space serves as the site for weekend brunch. It boasts two projector screens, eight fire pits, and a 3,000-gallon tank fountain. The shot bar swing set sits in one corner. The alfresco area should suit the young-at-heart to a tee. The owners are breaking ground on a nine hole mini golf course in the next few months.

There may be a new wolf in town, but you won’t hear it howling according to the owners.  Oakmont will shut down at midnight on weekdays (Mondays through Wednesdays) so that “our neighbors can get some rest and like having us here,” Yazan Jarrah says.

“We want them to look forward to coming here.”

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